Robben Island

Once on the island everyone has to get on a bus and be escorted around the island before visiting the prison. The most poignant place is the house of Robert Sobukwe the founder of the Pan Africanist Congress. Sobukwe was in solitary confinement and wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone – however he did give secret hand signals to other prisoners when he was outside – he held dirt in his hand and let it trickle through his fingers as a gesture of solidarity. His little yellow house is by the guard-dog kennels. Visitors also see the quarry where the prisoners worked.

Ex-prisoners or ex-wardens conduct the prison tours – they show you Nelson Mandela’s cell, the exercise yard, and the dormitory style accommodation with the daily prison diet written on a board for all to see.

Extract from – Ten Traveller’s Tales

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